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35mm film reloading success: Yashica Electro 35

One of my pet peeves about shooting 35mm is that film is only available in 36 exposure rolls. While this is economical I seldom shoot an entire roll in a day out. This usually means it sits around in my camera before it gets developed. My normal medium format cameras have 12-16 exposures which is just about right for my style of shooting. So a while back I bought a bargain reloader and found a huge stash of old 35mm canisters as well. I also bought 17m of Ilford FP4+ 35mm film. This is the smallest quantity I could find.

I started reloading 12 exposures per roll. This works out as I expected and I get through a roll in a few hours out shooting. I get home and develop it the same day and 12 exposures fits in one scanning run. Very nice and a success from a use standpoint for me. 35mm now makes more sense for me. Of course this is not the most economical way forward as you use up 3 exposures for leaders on each end of the roll. So 6 wasted exposures for every 12 useful ones. In the future I may offset this somewhat by loading 16 exposures. Even so I calculate I pay £1.20 a roll vs £4.30 for bulk (10) buy FP4+.

These went into a 35mm rangefinder I bought a while back the Yachica Electro 35 GTN and a GSN. (I couldn't decide between black and chrome.) I was enamored with the look and found it a very easy camera to use especially when I am out with other people and not be able to take a lot of time photographing. I have a Nikon F from my grandfather and an Olympus OM1 from my father. Both are lovely cameras.
Yashica Electro 35 GSN )Photo Ken Rockwell)

The Yashica like the others has a built-in meter but sets the shutter speed according to the selected aperture. Lights on the camera and in the viewfinder indicate the direction to move the aperture ring if the shutter speed is too slow for handheld or too fast for the camera. This and the coupled rangefinder makes picture taking fast. The lens is a reasonably fast f1.7 45mm lens.

The thing that really impresses me however is the accuracy of the meter which is important as one has no other control.  The beauty of this electronic shutter control is that it mimics the film by integrating the exposure in the meter while the shutter is open and then closes it when the accumulated light is right for the speed of the film and the aperture. This means that it has infinitely variable shutter speeds across a whole range up to 4 seconds.The shutter is a leaf shutter so is very quiet as well. I have taken black and white photos under different lighting and the results have been very consistent. This includes candle light in a church, directly into the sun, full daylight and cloudy days.

My only complaint is these old cameras have a problem with the f16 setting. The electrical contacts on the two of them that I have bought both don't work. This manifests itself in a very long or stuck open shutter resulting in overexposure. I limit my use up to f11 and use slower film so it isn't a practical problem but certainly something to watch out for if you buy one yourself. Also the seals near the door hinge are inevitably rotten and very leaky. These should be scraped out and replaced with new foam.

Below are some sample shots. They have only been adjusted for levels. They are all handheld, no tripod. The first is the inside of a cathedral.  Only the windows are blown out but all the other detail is rendered nicely.
Trier Germany Fuji Neopan 400
 This photo was taken straight into the rising sun on a hazy and foggy morning. I really didn't expect to get anything.
Busway in the Fens Ilford FP4+ 125

 Taken on a drizzly day. Lots of detail in the water.
Punts on the Cam Ilford HP5+ 400
 This was an early morning shot into the sun behind the clouds again. I was able to print this one and capture the subtle sun through the thin clouds.
Fen Drayton Tree Ilford  FP4+ 125
 Another shot in the cathedral.
Trier Cathedral Candles Fuji Neopan 400